My journey into the world of professional design – Part 1: Paint Pranks

I see quite a few designers out there that seemingly have a lack of confidence in their own ability. This is actually heartbreaking, knowing there are talented creatives amongst us all that feel like they aren't good enough... It might be that they’re over-critical of their own work, or simply the fact they've seen some unbelievably talented work on Dribbble and feel like they’ll never get to that level. My advice is to feed from these sources for inspiration, but never directly compare yourself! Focus on your own journey. It takes time, but if you stick at it and believe in yourself you’ll achieve great things.

I hope this series of articles can inspire at least one person to get back on track with design because I’ll be honest, there’s nothing staggering about my journey. It does, however, show how I've developed over the past two decades (crap, I’m old) from being sure about what I wanted to do and where I was going to be heading, right from primary school.

I started early, by means of mischief…

I've always been quite into tech, thanks to my brother. I shared a room with him for my entire childhood so a lot of our interests were, and still are the same; gaming, dance music, and computing to name a few. Every kid during their childhood played around on what was, at the time, the holy grail of graphic design software: MS Paint. If you never made one of those abstract drawings where you make a complete mess of the canvas then fill the gaps with alternating colours (making sure two identical colours never touch – damn, traits of perfectionism/OCD have always been with me) then you never lived. In the 90's at least. Unlucky.

Every 90’s kid was an inadvertent fan of abstract art — who knew?

Of course, I had to take it to the next level.

In Year 6 of primary school (2001, aged 10) I was appointed ‘Computer Monitor’ – a prestigious title that only one member of the class was crowned. For the one dinosaur of a computer that was sat in the corner. Honestly, I don’t have a clue what I did on that computer on a day to day basis but I did pull off a prank that I’ll never forget.

It had Windows 98, I knew how to use Paint, I knew how to take a screenshot and then set a desktop background. Some of you might know where this is going… But for those that don’t, here is a modern day recreation of that 16 year old masterpiece:

It seems I had mad skills to be able to pull this off in Paint. It just took me a solid 10 mins trying to recreate this in PS.

‘Just’ setting the wallpaper wasn't enough

I didn't just set it straight away and wait for the teachers to panic and it be over in a heartbeat. I waited until the very last day of school before the Summer holidays, as I knew I wouldn't be around to fix it. This would intensify panic when they finally booted it up on an inset day and it was the first thing they saw.

5 weeks later my mum received a phone call from a worried Mrs. Williams asking if I could go in and fix the computer. She was terrified of clicking anything and didn't know how to get rid of the prompt of doom. Great success.

I think I was always meant to be a UI designer.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear stories from your earliest memories within design — feel free to post them in the comments below! Stay tuned for part two at some point next week.


Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Ash Pennington’s story.